It is the middle of March. That means prospective law students are beginning their school touring season. I am currently squeezing tours into this last month before seat deposits are due. Of course, prospective law students do not have to make their final decisions in April. However, I want to narrow down my prospective schools to save money on seat deposits.
The good news is that I’ll be uploading more blog posts within the next few weeks. I’ve decided to write a new blog post whenever I visit a new school. The blog may not be an overall review of the school. I will, however, include anything that I learn about the law school decision process, a little bit about my experience at the school or anything that I particularly like about each law school that I visit. I’ve decided not to write anything negative about the schools because I am honored to have been accepted and would not want to sway any potential applicants from applying or any prospective students from attending a law school.
With that being said I plan to attend admitted student events, including the BIG preview days for each school that I have been accepted to. I only applied to law schools in California. So, for the next several weeks I will be traveling up and down the coast to find the law school that fits me best. Here is a list of characteristics I am most interested in when visiting a law school:
During my gap year, while I was preparing to retake the LSAT, I began visiting local libraries in Los Angeles. I was looking for a new and quiet study spot– I mean seriously quiet. During undergrad, I did most of my studying in my dorm or apartment and I enjoyed having friends around to distract me from time to time. However, once I moved back home during my gap year, I needed to leave the comfort of my home in order to study effectively. I was someone who really struggled with the LSAT so I took my preparation seriously. This is when I really began to love and appreciate a serene study environment. Now I look for a similar environment at law schools. I look for an updated library and outdoor study spots (since I live in sunny California) because I know that’s where I will spend most of my time.
Another quality I look for in law schools is a range of experiential learning programs. I actually suggest researching schools with an experiential learning program for your particular field of interest before you apply. (You can read a few tips on how to create your list of law schools here.) I want my law school experience to include real-world experience that will successfully prepare me for my career as a lawyer. One of my fears is beginning my career search without the confidence that I can perform the job successfully. I am interested in public service and social justice. So, when I am touring schools, I ask about the school’s public interest experiential learning programs where I can take my education beyond the classroom. I like to hear from current law students/ student ambassadors because I believe they can attest to the quality and importance of such experiential learning more than the school’s website.
Being employable is really important to me. Not only do I want to be prepared for the legal job market, I also want to have a foot in the door for prospective jobs. A lot of job openings and internships are filled through inside networking before they become available to all students/graduates. Faculty members are likely to have connections in the legal world. So while I am touring, I look for strong faculty-student relationships. I like to see faculty with a genuine interest in the success of the law students. I will participate in mock classes, sit in on classes, or hear from a faculty member from the career development office in order to get a sense of the quality of student-faculty relationships at my prospective law schools.
I know that law school will be difficult. I want to mitigate my stress levels with an amicable environment. When I tour schools, I am looking for a relaxing physical atmosphere and a sense of community. One of the things I admire about Loyola Law School is that it has a safe haven like quality in the hustle and bustle of DTLA. I think the student and campus environments are the most important aspects of the school tour. The school’s ranking and its academic reputation are what got you to apply. Now, selecting the school that matches your personality and, more importantly, your specific career goals become your task for the spring/summer.
Kayla J. Phillips